From the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — The University of the Fraser Valley Women’s Volleyball program has reinforced its roster in advance of the 2022-23 season, signing a trio of high school standouts.
Lauren Way and Amy Bennett join the Cascades from the B.C. high school ranks, while Natalie Lemoine-Sells is a top-rated player out of Manitoba. All three are wrapping up their Grade 12 studies and will join the Cascades next fall.
“We’re starting to bring in recruits who have U SPORTS aspirations and U SPORTS capabilities,” Cascades head coach Janelle Rozema enthused. “We do have quite a few players graduating in the next one to two years, so this is a class that will have every opportunity to earn larger roles, including significant playing time, earlier in their careers.”
Lemoine-Sells has had an outstanding senior season with the Collège Jeanne-Sauvé Olympiens. She captained the team, and was recognized as a 4A conference all-star, a St. Vital tournament all-star, and a 4A graduating provincial all-star. She was also the No. 2-ranked player in Manitoba according to a Manitoba High School Athletic Association coaches’ poll.
Lemoine-Sells also excelled on the club scene over the years, both indoor and beach. She won a U13/U14 league championship, and won gold (U18) and silver (U14) medals at the provincial beach championships.
“Natalie has the physicality we’re looking for in a U SPORTS player, in terms of her height and her ability to jump and touch at a high point,” Rozema said. “She’s a tall, high-flyer. Often with tall players, you pay a price in terms of other ball control-type skills, but with Natalie you don’t. She’s a really well-rounded volleyball player.”
“I chose UFV because of the competitive athletic and academic programs,” said Lemoine-Sells, who will study criminology at UFV. “It’s a positive learning environment not only on the court but in the classroom as well, which was something I was drawn to. Everyone on the team has a great work ethic and drive, and I believe it’ll be a very motivating environment.
“In my time at UFV, I’m very excited to connect with my teammates and coaches and see what kind of success we can have together. I’m eager to learn as much as I can, whether that’s from the coaches, my teammates, or others around campus. I cannot wait to start my journey at UFV!”
Way has been an impact player for a much-decorated Riverside Rapids program over the past four years. The high-flying middle was part of provincial championships at the junior level in Grades 9 and 10, and after a 2020 high school campaign lost to COVID-19, she and her teammates came back strong and won the B.C. 4A title last week in Nanaimo. Way was named a second team tournament all-star.
Way has also been part of Team B.C., and won a title with the Zone 4 regional squad.
“Lauren knows how to win, and she’s got a really fun personality that’s going to enrich our team culture,” Rozema said. “She’s an excellent communicator and a really intelligent middle blocker, and her experience on winning teams and representing B.C. at the national level makes her a really valuable asset.”
“I’ve really enjoyed working with Janelle in the past, and the culture she has built at UFV with the girls is something I want to be a part of,” said Way, who plans to enroll in General Studies. “UFV also offers small classes and is close to home for me. I hope to help build a positive culture and make an impact in Canada West.”
Bennett guided Kelowna Christian to a great deal of success over the course of her high school career. She was part of a B.C. Single A championship-winning squad in 2019, and a bronze medal performance at the B.C. Christian Schools tournament in 2020. The 5’9” setter earned tourney all-star honours on both occasions.
On the club scene, Bennett captained teams with the B.C. provincial program and the Junior Heat club.
“Amy is very self-motivated, a highly intelligent setter, and a bold and confident communicator,” Rozema said. “As a coach, that makes her really trustworthy to me, knowing that she’ll have the ability to run our offence well.”
“I chose UFV as I wanted to study a degree in sciences and pre-med which would lead to a career in medicine,” Bennett explained. “With the small class sizes it will allow me to get closer with my professors and obtain a hands-on experience. I also wanted to participate in varsity volleyball and was particularly drawn to the team as it has just been promoted to U SPORTS. Being part of something that is building and developing is really exciting to me.
“l first met Coach Janelle through Team BC and knew I wanted to be a part of her team. I respected her coaching style, her ability to connect with the players and her desire to grow in the U SPORTS league.
“As a Cascade, my goal is to continue to develop as a committed athlete and to connect and be part of a successful team. I believe this can be achieved by being focused, determined and driven. My ultimate goal is to represent the university at the national championships. I hope to be recognized as a team player who does what is best for the team.”